Forest – Mysterious Moon
The last time they came here, they landed in a clearing. As such, Rarity wasn't sure where they'd end up. So Rarity was a little surprised when they arrived in Fluttershy's world and were walking on water for a bit. She looked behind them as they left and saw some of the water shaped like a door behind them fall back into the main body.
I rather like that.
DASH-379 and Applejack looked around, both of them taken aback by the beauty of the lush forest surrounding them.
“So, this is your world Fluttershy?” DASH-379 asked.
“Yes. This lake behind Canterlot Village. Actual village this way,” Fluttershy said pointing ahead. Applejack looked a little nervous.
“So uh… we're actually nowhere near my world, huh?” Applejack asked, “As in, no matter where I go, I'm not going to find the castle anywhere.”
“Afraid not,” Rarity said, “Trust me, it's something you get used to.”
“Doubt it…” Applejack said rubbing her arm.
“If you are so worried, you can stay behind me,” DASH-379 said with a smirk, “I will protect you, oh "brave" knight.”
“Watch it, you self absorbed tin can,” Applejack said glaring at DASH-379, “Else I knock you on your hide, again.”
“Tin can?! My body is composed of 1.3 kilograms of bioplast material, and my armor is composed of titanium alloy mixed with 16 grams of platinum and 5 grams of iron! And for your information, you got lucky when you disabled me in combat! Had I been at optimal capacity, you would have been easily terminated!”
“Is that a challenge?!”
“If you think you can take me!”
DASH-379 and Applejack got real close to each other's faces glaring at one another. Rarity could almost see the electricity between their eyes.
“Whoa whoa whoa!” Rarity shouted getting in between her two friends, “Why don't we focus on the task at hand rather than at fighting each other, hm?” As Rarity spoke, DASH-379 and Applejack were replaced with her own Rainbow Dash and Applejack in her mind.
Yeah? Well… I'm still better!
Keep tellin yerself that, Dash. Rarity's right though, we got a mission ta continue.
Rarity shook her head, and saw both DASH-379 and Applejack return to normal, both of them looking at her confused.
“Um… what was that?” Rarity asked.
“I said we have a mission to continue,” Applejack said, “Are you okay, Rarity?”
“Yeah, you kind of zoned out there,” DASH-379 added.
“Yes, I'm fine. Absolutely fine,” Rarity said, “Come along. We can't keep Twilight waiting for too long.”
DASH-379 and Applejack walked over to Fluttershy, and all three of them watched Rarity walk off in confusion. Rarity herself was confused, as for a split second she felt like she was moderating one of her Applejack and Rainbow Dash's fights.
But… that's not the case…
They're not my Rainbow Dash or my Applejack…
My friends… are gone…
When they arrived in the village, they noticed a tense air around them. Fluttershy led them to the Chief's hut, where they saw Chief Luna and Seer Celestia talking outside of the hut. It looked serious.
“Chief! Seer!” Fluttershy called out, catching their attention. The Seer and Chief turned to them, Celestia smiling warmly.
“Fluttershy, Traveler, you return,” Celestia said, walking over to them and hugging them before turning to DASH and Applejack, “And you bring more Travelers.”
“Yes. These are new friends, DASH and Applejack,” Fluttershy said pointing to the robot and knight in question, “They from other worlds.”
Chief Luna walked up to DASH-379 and examined her closely, “Not human, but not animal either. Strange.”
“Yeah, you get used to it,” DASH said, “Do not worry though, you are perfectly safe with me.”
Seer Celestia looked around confused, “Where is Twilight? She not with you?”
“That's… actually why we're here…” Rarity said, “Perhaps we should talk inside.”
Once inside, Celestia and Luna took their usual spots kneeling in the center of the room and Fluttershy and Rarity knelt down in front of them. Applejack and DASH-379 opted to remain standing though. After explaining the situation to the Chief and Seer, both of them looked serious.
“This unfortunate news,” Celestia said somberly.
“Friend die if we not cure fast,” Fluttershy said, “Must get herb to make cure.”
Chief Luna looked down gravely, “I sorry about friend, but we can't give herb.”
Everyone looked horrified.
“What do you mean?!” Rarity asked, “If we don't get this herb, Twilight will die!”
“You misunderstand,” Celestia said, “We would if we could, but can't.”
“Does this have anything to do with the tense air around here?” Applejack asked. Celestia nodded gravely.
“Shortly after you leave, Wolf Tribe begin attacking more ferociously,” Chief Luna said, “Attacks even more frequent and brutal than before.”
“I thought I saw a few burned huts around here,” DASH pointed out, “Were you all attacked recently?”
“We were,” Celestia said, “Hut with herbs attacked and burned down. All healing herbs destroyed in fire.”
“No…” Fluttershy said covering her face with her hands, “Without herbs, can't cure Twilight!”
“There has to be another way,” Rarity said, “Maybe a place where we can get them ourselves.”
Seer Celestia looked thoughtful, “Actually, yes. Find herbs in old shrine.”
“Celestia, are you sure?” Luna asked her sister, “Shrine sacred place. No one go there.”
“Friend dying, Luna,” Celestia pointed out, “Traveler and friends help us, so we help them in return,” Celestia turned to Rarity and Fluttershy, “Shrine in deeper part of forest west of village. It day's walk. Best if leave as soon as possible.”
“Thank you,” Fluttershy said, both she and Rarity bowing in respect. DASH and Applejack both nodded to the Chief and Elder, and the four of them exited the hut.
“Old shrine, huh?” Applejack asked, “Think we have enough time?”
“Poison take while to kill, three moons,” Fluttershy said, “Longer we wait, harder to cure, but if we hurry, Twilight live.”
“I have started a timer,” DASH said, “I will keep track of the time for us.”
“Good,” Rarity said turning to Fluttershy, “Lead the way, darling.”
Fluttershy nodded and led the team through the forest.
Rarity wanted to keep going, but once night came everyone felt it would be safer to wait until day time. Since DASH-379 didn't need her battery recharged, she opted to stay awake as to not only keep watch, but also to wake everyone up when it was time.
Rarity felt a little lonely as she lied down to rest. She had become accustomed to sleeping next to Twilight, so not having her there made Rarity feel a little uneasy. In fact, her absence period was a little nerve wracking. Whenever she couldn't sleep, she'd just hold onto Twilight. Sometimes, she'd find Twilight wrapping her arms around her on instinct.
She hadn't realized just how much she was growing to love Twilight until she wasn't there.
“Are you still up?”
Rarity turned to the side and saw DASH-379 standing a bit over her.
“Yes, I'm having a little trouble sleeping,” Rarity said, “Is something bothering you, DASH?”
DASH averted her eyes looking serious, “What happened to her?”
“To who?” Rarity asked sitting up.
“To… Fluttershy,” DASH asked. She sat down next to Rarity before she continued, “I noticed it when I broke into the castle to rescue you all. She was very upset, but only got that way when a male approached her, and I did not miss her shying away from all the males we have passed after that. Do you know the source of her Androphobia?”
Rarity was a little confused by that word, until she realized what DASH was probably asking. She wanted to know why Fluttershy was afraid of men. Once again she was taken aback by how human DASH-379 was.
“Well… I do actually,” Rarity said, moving to sit right next to DASH, “It happened right before we arrived in your world. The previous leader of the wolves captured her. She already hated the idea of being tied down, believing herself to be like the wind, so that was bad enough. However… Greymane… he… assaulted her, if you get what I mean…”
DASH-379's eyes went wide, “You do not mean…” when Rarity nodded sadly, DASH looked down, visibly upset, so much her eyes were watering, “Damn it…!”
“I believe that was her first time as well…” Rarity said somberly, “He stole something from her, something she'll never get back,” Rarity was shocked when she heard something slam next to her. She looked at DASH-379 and saw a shocking sight. She was trembling, her fist slammed in the ground in anger. But that wasn't all that got to Rarity.
Is she… crying…?
“Why…?” DASH-379 asked through her tears, “Why did he do that to her?! Why would anyone want to do that to her?!”
“Oh my word…” Rarity said wrapping her arms around her robotic friend, “You're really upset about this, aren't you?”
“Damn right I am,” DASH-379 looked at Fluttershy, who was sleeping curled up against a tree by herself across from them, “Fluttershy is my… friend. She is the first true friend I have ever made. She does not see me as a simple machine. To her, I am a living person, and she is not afraid of me even though I am malfunctioning. Maybe she does not fully understand it, but that is okay. When she speaks to me, I feel comforted.”
“She has really taken a shine to you,” Rarity said also looking at Fluttershy, “She's the same with me, mind you, but there I feel like she wants to protect me. When it comes to you, she almost seems to rely on you for protection.”
“What can I do?” DASH asked, “How can I help my f-friend?”
“Well, I'd say for starters, be a presence,” Rarity said, remembering when she and her Rainbow Dash had a similar conversation, “She wants to depend on you, so let her know that she can depend on you. You don't have to do anything special, either. Just continue to be yourself, DASH. By doing that, you'll be doing wonders for her.”
“Do you think, she will recover from that ordeal?” DASH asked. Rarity sighed.
“Hard to say really,” Rarity admitted, “One's first time paints their outlook quite a lot. She might not ever recover completely. If she doesn't though, she'll need her friend more than ever.”
DASH looked back at Fluttershy, nodded, and rose to her feet. She actually looked like she was heading over to Fluttershy.
“Oh, and DASH,” Rarity called out, stopping DASH, “Just know that we all feel the same way as she does. Twilight, Applejack, and myself all see you as a living person, just like Fluttershy. You have more friends than you realize. Don't forget that.”
“I… will not,” DASH said slowly, “Thank you, Rarity.”
With that, DASH-379 walked over to Fluttershy, and sat down next to her, resting Fluttershy's head on her lap and caressing her lovingly. It was an interesting sight for Rarity. On one hand, it felt right, seeing Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy so close. On the other hand, knowing that this Rainbow Dash was a robot made that gesture all the more meaningful. Somehow, DASH-379 was actually… alive. As terrifying as that was in hindsight, it meant that she had a true heart.
Maybe even a soul.
Rarity looked around their camp sight, and saw Applejack lying down. She had removed the upper part of her armor, revealing a simple red bra underneath. Rarity walked over to her and lied down next to her.
“Having trouble getting to sleep?” Applejack asked.
“A little,” Rarity admitted, “It may sound odd, but if possible… could I sleep next to you?”
Applejack smiled, and turned to the side wrapping her arms around Rarity, “Sure thing, Rarity. Is this better?”
“Much better,” Rarity said snuggling in Applejack's embrace, “I guess I've gained a bit of a fear of… sleeping alone.”
“I can imagine,” Applejack said, “Your story wasn't really a happy one. I'm sorry about your world, Rarity.”
“It's… alright,” Rarity sighed, “Well, no it isn't, but I'll manage I suppose.”
“If you ever need a shoulder to cry on, and Twilight isn't there, you can come to me. I'll be there for you, just like my teacher was for me.”
“You mention your teacher a lot,” Rarity pointed out, “What were they like?” Rarity was surprised when Applejack tightened her embrace.
“Actually, she was a lot like you Rarity.”
In Applejack's strong embrace, it didn't take long for Rarity to fall to sleep. More and more, she wondered if Applejack's teacher was who she thought she was. If so, that meant the two of them were a lot alike.
Both of them sort of using the other as a surrogate for someone that they lost. Someone precious, and beloved.
The next morning, they arrived at what appeared to be an old shrine. The outer section was covered in moss, making the whole building look like it was centuries old.
“This old shrine,” Fluttershy said, “Find herbs inside.”
“What was this place used for?” Rarity asked, “Do you know?”
Fluttershy shook her head, “Place not used to worship Lavos. Odd statue further in, but no one knows what it is.”
As they walked toward the building, DASH-379 stopped and looked up, “Vitals detected! We are not alone!”
As soon as she said that, arrows shot at them, almost hitting Rarity. Thankfully Applejack moved in the way just in time and blocked with her shield. Four wolves came out of the bushes and stood in front of them, two holding bows and two with swords.
“It's an ambush!” Applejack said as all four of them drew their weapons and got in their fighting stances.
“Just once I'd like to go in and out without needing to get my hands dirty!” Rarity fussed.
The two sword wielding wolves rushed at the group, one focusing on Fluttershy and DASH-379 while the other one focused on Rarity and Applejack. While they fought, the two holding bows charged up red elements and shot fire arrows at all four of them that exploded on contact.
“They couldn't do that before!” Rarity cried.
“Wolves stronger now!” Fluttershy stated, “High level red elements!”
“Alright then, here's the plan!” Applejack said, “DASH, cast an element to increase Fluttershy's speed, while I cast one to increase her strength! Rarity, you and I will then use long ranged elements on the archers while Fluttershy charges up! Once you're ready, Fluttershy, I want you to use a wide spread attack on everyone!”
Everyone was a little taken aback, but they nodded and followed the plan. DASH-379 charged up her yellow element and used Speed Boost on Fluttershy, who was now able to move out of the way of the arrows and hit the swordsmen. Applejack slashed one of the swordsmen with her sword to get energy, and then charged up her red element, using a Power Boost on Fluttershy. Both she and Rarity continued using long ranged elements while Fluttershy gathered energy.
Once she had enough from basic attacks, she charged up her green element. She then jumped in the middle of the area and spun around, using Tail Spin to create a large tornado that engulfed everyone, knocking them down.
Rarity felt a new power build up within her and decided to test it. She charged up her black element, and then spun her spear above her, pointing it at the wolves now grouped together. A black wave appeared over them, and then converged on top of them flattening them, even causing the ground to temporarily cave in. (Gravity Well)
Needless to say, they didn't get back up.
Everyone put their weapons away and gathered in front of the door.
“Wolves meet us here?!” Fluttershy asked, “We must hurry! They might take all of herb, or even burn down rest!”
“Twilight currently has 61 hours until the poison takes full effect,” DASH-379 stated, “We must hurry.”
As DASH-379 and Fluttershy ran in, Rarity turned to Applejack, who had her arms folded looking troubled.
“Is something wrong, Applejack?” Rarity asked.
“You remember what this world's Celestia said, right?” Applejack asked, “This place is sacred, and private. No one knows about this place except for the people of the village. Also, that was an ambush. They were waiting for us. How would they have known about us being here?”
Rarity thought about that. Now that she thought about it, that was odd. It was almost as if someone had told them ahead of time where they were, but the only ones who knew…
Were this world's Celestia and Luna…
“Let's worry about that later,” Rarity said, “For now, we need to rescue Twilight.”
“Right,” Applejack said, “Let's go.”
They proceeded deeper through the shrine, DASH and Fluttershy up front while Applejack and Rarity stayed behind them covering the rear. The shrine was more complicated than Rarity thought it would be, with a lot of twists and turns. The interior felt odd to Rarity though, as if it didn't fit with the rest of the world.
They eventually reached a large room with a large statue in the back sitting on a throne. The statue looked somewhat like a knight, but its face had a simple blackened orb in the middle, and its entire body was green from the plant life growing on it.
“Odd,” DASH-379 pointed out, “This room is made of different material than the rest of the shrine.”
“You can see all that, huh?” Applejack asked.
“Affirmative. The environment seems different than the rest. My readings are showing… Spectrum carbonate?”
“What's that?” Rarity asked.
“It is a metal found in my world…” DASH said, “Why is that here?”
Fluttershy walked around the room, stopping when she found a small plant growing right in front of the statue. It had small white flowers on it. Fluttershy smiled and ran over to it.
“Found herb!” Fluttershy cheered.
“Oh thank heavens!” Rarity cried, “Now we can rescue-” she was cut off by the entire room shaking, “W-what's going on?!”
“I am picking up strong energy readings!” DASH-379 stated, “It is as if something is activating in this room!”
“Brace yourselves!” Applejack commanded, “I don't like the looks of this!”
You who seek enlightenment…
I am one who guards the door to Zenith…
“The… door to… Zenith…?” Rarity asked.
Only one who passes my test can enter the door…
The orb on the statue lit up, turning white. The statue itself then slowly stood up from its throne. Rarity grabbed Fluttershy's arm and ran away from the statue a bit as it walked toward them.
“What do you suppose we do?!” Rarity asked frantically.
“We don't have a choice!” Applejack said drawing her sword, “If we don't fight it here, it might follow us to the village! We have to defeat it!”
“Understood!” DASH-379 said getting in a fighting stance, “Locking onto single target! Engaging!”
The odd statue charged up a green element, and then stomped its foot. Its entire body was engulfed in a green sphere of wind and empowered.
Rarity and Applejack charged in first, slashing the statue with their weapons. Understandably this did absolutely nothing to it, but it allowed them to gather energy. Both of them jumped away and charged up their elements at the same time. Rarity charged up her spear with darkness, and Applejack charged up her blade with fire. Both of them charged at the statue slashing in a sort of X formation, doing minor damage. (Double Tech: X-Strike)
DASH-379 stayed away from the statue, using her arm cannon to shoot at it. It took a few of her shots head on, and then pointed its arm at her. It's hand retracted into its arm and let a large fan come out, and it blew sharp gusts of wind at DASH, blowing her away a bit. Fluttershy caught her and kept her steady thankfully.
“Thank you,” DASH said to Fluttershy, who smiled in response. DASH then charged up her yellow element, and got on one knee charging up her arm cannon. She then fired her Charged Shot at it, seeming to paralyze the statue.
“It can't move!” Rarity shouted, “Now's our chance!”
Applejack rushed in and slashed with her blade, only so she could gather energy. Once she was finished, she jumped back and charged up her red element, and then shot a red beam at the statue. Once it hit, she appeared right in front of its face in mid air and used her Sword Dance.
When Applejack jumped away from it, Rarity charged up her black element. She held out her hand, and shot three Shadow Balls at the still paralyzed statue. As it looked like it was about to get back up, Fluttershy quickly rushed in and slashed it with her daggers, and then jumped away charging up her green element. She then ran to the statue and used her Gale Slash at it.
The statue slowly rose to its feet and began walking toward them. Out of its hands it shot out green lasers at it walked toward them, forcing all of them to scatter.
“DASH, can you use your Charged Shot again on it?” Rarity asked.
“Leave it to me!” DASH-379 said giving Rarity a thumbs up. She ran toward the statue and began punching and kicking it to gather energy. Her final move was a back flip kick away from it, and she charged up her yellow element, firing her Charged Shot at the statue again.
Once it was paralyzed, Applejack charged up her red element, and used Vigor on herself, which Rarity learned doubled the power of whatever her next move was. Made Rarity wish she had something like that herself.
Applejack ran over to the statue and slashed it with her blade, finally doing some visible damage to it. It seemed to recover from DASH-379's attack quicker though, as it started getting up and raised its arm.
“Look out!” DASH shouted. She ran over to Applejack and pushed her out of the way just in time as the statue slammed its fist onto the ground. Applejack looked at DASH in shock.
“Thanks for that,” Applejack said.
“Do not mention it,” DASH said, “You are still my friend, even if I could kick your ass in true hand to hand combat.”
Applejack chuckled, “Fair enough, but we'll have to agree to disagree on that last part.”
Applejack and DASH stood up and charged up their respective elements. DASH and Applejack jumped to either side of the statue, and then charged at it both of them attacking it in the side with all their strength. (Double Tech: Beat Rush)
The statue recovered from their attacks and started targeting Fluttershy and Rarity, both of them running out of the way of its assaults. They both took cover behind pillars close to one another.
“I think statue has same affinity as me!” Fluttershy said, “Attacks not hurt me much!”
“Are you saying you'll act as bait so I can get a good shot in?” Rarity asked. Fluttershy nodded in response, “Alright, but be careful darling. We don't have Twilight to heal us this time.”
Fluttershy rushed out and ran around the statue. It flailed and slammed its arms around trying to hit Fluttershy, but DASH-379 used her Speed Boost on her to heighten her speed, making her almost impossible to hit.
While that went on, Rarity charged up her black element, but something came to mind. She remembered that attack that Pinkamena used on them, the one with the black cats. The name “Feral Cats” suddenly came to mind. Could she…?
She gave it a shot, holding out her hand and allowing the darkness to heed her commands. Hundreds of black cats shot out of the shadows from behind her, shooting at the statue and knocking it to one knee.
“The statue seems to be getting weaker,” DASH said, “We need to end this now.”
“Agreed,” Applejack said, “DASH, your attacks seem to do the most to it, so this one's all yours.”
DASH nodded and charged up her yellow element. Instead of charging up her arm cannon though, she held up her hand allowing a bolt of lightning to hit it, engulfing her hand in electricity. She rushed at the statue and slashed it once real good with her arm acting as a blade, doing massive damage to the statue. (Elec Sword)
The statue exploded from that final attack and fell to the ground. As everyone sheathed their weapons, they heard that voice again.
The path to enlightenment has partially lit up…
There are two more tests…
“So… does anyone here know what the hell they're talking about?” Applejack asked.
“Negative,” DASH-379 said, “But that fight ate up a lot of time. We have 53 hours to rescue Twilight.”
“As long as we hurry we should have plenty of time,” Rarity said, “Let's go.”
As they all ran out, DASH-379 stopped briefly and looked at the statue lying on the ground. She frowned to herself, and then ran out after her friends. They'd deal with it later, after Twilight was safe.
It took a while, but they eventually made it back to Canterlot Village. They saw Celestia waiting for them right at the entrance.
“Ah, you return safely,” Celestia said, “I worry when I had vision of struggle.”
“Do you know what that statue was?” Rarity asked, “It mentioned something about “Zenith” and a test.”
Celestia looked at Rarity, giving her a somewhat odd expression, “It is nothing you need to worry about right now, Traveler. Your friend needs you.”
“R-right,” Rarity said. She sort of had the feeling that Celestia wasn't telling her everything she knew, and for some reason it disturbed her. Before they could leave, they saw Chief Luna walk through the village.
“Sister, Traveler and friends return,” Celestia said. Chief Luna flinched and turned to them with a strained happy expression.
“Very good,” Luna said, “You find herb then?”
“Yes,” Fluttershy held out the herb showing it to Luna, “We take to Twilight now.”
“Very good, Fluttershy,” Luna said, “Sister, I tired. Going to rest.”
“Very well,” Celestia said with a slight sigh, “Rest well, sister.”
As Chief Luna walked off to their hut, Applejack watched her with a slight frown.
“Everything okay?” Applejack asked Seer Celestia, “You two seem a little tense.”
“You find out soon enough,” Celestia said, “Go, save Twilight.”
“Thank you, Seer,” Fluttershy said with a bow, “I come back soon.”
Celestia smiled, bowed to all of them, and walked off deeper into the village. Applejack folded her arms and frowned again.
“What is wrong?” DASH-379 asked.
“The Luna of this dimension sort of rubs me the wrong way,” Applejack said, “In fact, she feels sort of like my Luna.”
“That's not too weird though, right?” Rarity asked, “I mean, they are the same person somewhat.”
“Well yeah, but this feels different. It's more like they're literally the same person, just in two different places. I don't know if that makes any sense.”
“No, I get it,” DASH-379 said, “Chief Luna is the only other one I have seen so far besides yours, and I noticed the same thing when I saw both of them.”
“If both of you are sensing it, then there might be something to this,” Rarity said, “Fluttershy, when your tribe began sending women as tributes, who was the one who spoke to Greymane?”
“Chief Luna,” Fluttershy said, “She talk to Greymane alone.”
“She did not bring her sister with her?” DASH-379 asked, “That sounds illogical to me.”
“They do seem rather tied to the hips usually,” Rarity said, “Come to think of it, Applejack, you said that the demons captured the Celestia of your world, correct? Where was the Viceroy during this time?”
Applejack thought back, “You know, I don't think I even saw her during the kidnapping. I saw her after it though, as she took over the Queen's affairs in her absence.”
“Now that sounds suspicious,” DASH-379 said, “We might need to investigate this angle. If she is connected to the kidnapping of Queen Celestia, she would be connected to the shadow creatures.”
“And thus Lavos by extension, right?” Rarity asked, getting a nod from DASH, “First we need to hurry back to Medieval. I don't think Luna would act suddenly to harm Twilight, as that would make us suspicious of her, but I still don't feel comfortable leaving Twilight alone with her.”
“I hope we wrong,” Fluttershy said, “I not want to suspect Chief of putting village in danger.”
“I know,” Rarity said putting her arms around Fluttershy, “But we have to cover all of our bases. Let's cure Twilight first, then we can discuss a plan to investigate Luna.”
Everyone nodded in agreement. Rarity didn't want to suspect Luna either, but now that she thought back to it, she did feel a little odd around Chief Luna. She sadly never got to see Viceroy Luna, and she was pretty sure that seeing her would be difficult with her being such a high ranking official. There was one other option though. If she wanted to confirm this feeling herself, she'd need to find another Luna and talk to her, right?
Looked like she was taking another trip back to Standard.